Establishing healthy boundaries can be an intimidating task during treatment. After all, many individuals fear potential judgment and lack the communication skills to maintain their boundaries effectively. However, healthy boundaries are an important foundation for your social and emotional health. By determining your boundaries and learning how to hold to them, you can establish healthy relationships to support you through your recovery journey.
The Importance of Boundaries
Boundaries are important to establish in treatment. They can ensure the relationships you are engaging in are setting you up for success. By determining your boundaries and holding to them, you are being true to yourself through the recovery process. It is important to work through recovery on your terms and not allow the opinions of friends or family to derail your progress.
Establishing boundaries is also important in keeping yourself safe in recovery. Learning these skills in treatment can help you maintain healthy relationships that positively contribute to your recovery. Transferring these skills into your life outside of recovery can help you avoid situations that are potentially unsafe or disruptive to your sobriety.
How to Determine Your Boundaries
There are various steps and techniques you can use to help you understand your morals, values, needs, and weaknesses. Understanding those can help you get specific about your boundaries. The more specific you can be about your boundaries, the better you will be able to communicate them and keep them.
#1 Identify Potential Risk Factors
By understanding the potential risk factors involved in your recovery, you can determine boundaries to keep you on the path to sobriety. When released from treatment, you will work with your treatment team to make an exit plan; this plan should take into account these risk factors. Even if you are not going to exit treatment soon, it’s never too early to think about your risk factors and what you can do to keep yourself safe and sober.
When considering the risk factors that may lead to relapse, think about what boundaries you can set to keep your sobriety. For example, helpful boundaries may include:
- Saying no to social engagements where substances are present
- Changing conversation when discussing topics you are not comfortable with
- Avoiding the discussion of substance use in social settings
#2 Know Your Morals
Our morals are a set of core beliefs that help us determine the difference between right and wrong. Knowing your morals and engaging in behaviors that you believe are good can help you stay positive through recovery. Boundaries that align with your morals may help you do things like:
- Stepping away from situations that misalign with your morals
- Asking peers to change their language around you if deemed inappropriate
- Advocating peers to discuss treatment with a positive mindset
- Supporting effective prevention strategies to decrease substance abuse in your community
#3 Know Your Limits
Relationships, social engagements, and topics of conversation are not the only things that boundaries can help you with. Boundaries can be set for physical interactions as well. Determine what physical contact you feel comfortable having with your peers and what level of contact is appropriate for the situation. While you are in treatment, sexual acts are considered to be overstepping boundaries. You get to decide whether you are okay with giving a peer a high-five, a hug, or keeping your space.
Knowing your limits and being firm with them can ensure you are physically and emotionally respected within your friendships. There may be limits with emotional boundaries as well. For example, if you are discussing a sensitive story from your past, strong emotions may arise. You may reach a point where you need to take a break from the conversation.
When your limits have been reached, develop a plan of how you will address that. Inform the other individual that you no longer feel comfortable engaging in the conversation or that you simply need a break from the discussion. If your physical boundaries are crossed, let the other person know how those boundaries have been breached.
How to Set and Keep Your Boundaries
Setting boundaries often starts with a simple conversation. Communicate your boundaries as clearly as possible. Remember that boundaries should address potential future problems as well as current issues in your relationships. Think about the issues that may arise and try to cover your bases when establishing these boundaries.
By actively monitoring your relationships, you can acknowledge in the moment when your boundaries are crossed. Some people may need a few reminders of how to respect your limits. These conversations are often uncomfortable to have. However, they will help you feel empowered in your actions moving forward as you build relationships of mutual respect. Unfortunately, if a person shows they do not care about your boundaries, they are likely not a safe person for you to continue to be in a relationship with.
Different people have different boundaries. It is important to discuss your boundaries with others and respect their boundaries as well. Some people may not feel comfortable engaging in a topic of conversation that does not bother you. By respecting the boundaries of others, you are creating a safe space for your peers as well. This act of kindness often goes both ways and can help you establish an external source of support.
Establishing boundaries is an important aspect of recovery. Through the journey of recovery, you are likely working to discover who you are and where you want to be in your future. Remaining true to yourself can ensure you are protecting your sobriety and well-being. By establishing and implementing boundaries, you are putting healthy restrictions in place for yourself and others to influence your pathway to success. Using techniques such as identifying potential risk factors, understanding your morals, and knowing your limits can help you determine what your boundaries are. Respectful conversations with peers, friends, or family can help you implement those boundaries and outline your expectations for the relationships. Boundaries create a platform of respect on which you can build a relationship of support. To learn more about the importance of boundaries and how to appropriately establish them, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (949) 732-1960.